Minor league World Series coming to Charlotte

American Seating employee Gladstone Everard of Charlotte, NC tightens the bolts in the seats at BB & T Ballpark on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

BB&T Ballpark has been selected by Minor League Baseball to host the 2014 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, the Charlotte Knights announced Tuesday.

The one-game winner-take-all showdown features the champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League and is scheduled for Sept. 16.

Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski made the announcement from the left-field concourse of BB&T Ballpark in uptown, as construction workers rolled out the field’s new sod in the background.

“Our goals from the beginning for BB&T Ballpark have been to provide the Knights with a first-class Triple-A facility and to utilize this ballpark for community events and to bring national attention to our city,” Rajkowski said.

Joining Rajkowski at the ballpark were Pat O’Connor, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball; Randy Mobley, president of the International League; and Rob Packard, vice president of marketing for Gildan Retail.

“Charlotte, with the new ballpark and the enthusiasm of moving uptown was a natural selection,” O’Connor said. “You try to get into ballparks that are new and environments that are new because it’s good to showcase the ballparks on a national basis, but also to reward the communities that put these ballparks up.

“It’s going to be beautiful. I’m sitting here reflecting on parks that I’ve been in in the last five or six years, and I can’t think of any that are going to be any better than this. Seventy nights a year this is going to be the place to be in downtown Charlotte.”

The 2014 championship will be the ninth in the series. The Pacific Coast League holds a 5-3 edge. The format switched to one game in 2006.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs hosted the 2013 championship at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., drawing 9,602 fans. Over the course of the past eight years, the game has drawn 73,983 fans to ballparks all over the country.

“We haven’t done an economic impact study, but we will be looking at that,” Rajkowski said. “We know that it’s going to put people in hotel rooms that wouldn’t normally be there. You’re bringing in visiting teams that normally wouldn’t be here, and the people that are coming here from around the country are going to be able to enjoy the amenities that this city has to offer.”

The game will be televised live nationally on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 7 p.m.

“We expect that we’ll sell it out, and we expect it to be a great experience and are excited to share that with this city,” Rajkowski said.

Rajkowski said more events are planned for BB&T Ballpark.

“We’re continuing to put packages together,” he said. “There’s nothing to announce at this point, but I think there are going to be some other good things coming down the road.”

Originally posted in Charlotte Observer